Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard
Art Stumble, a mural-painting project on the wall behind McCollum Hall and a corresponding event by the Fort Myers Mural Society, promotes pride in the Fort Myers Dunbar community, as well as support economic growth with aesthetic enhancement. The theme of the mural collection is a “wall” that symbolizes the positive influences of diversity, not division. The 17 murals feature internationally-renown musicians who played at McCollum Hall, such as Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, B. B. King, Duke Ellington, and Ella Fitzgerald. The project bridge an artistic connection between the Downtown River District—where The Mural Society has painted other murals—and the Dunbar section of the city. Mural finalists for Art Stumble back wall project were selected in September 2020. Mural painting began in January 2021 with a completion date of March 2021. Depending on any limitations imposed by coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), the CRA, along with various community partners and the developers, plan for Art Stumble event McCollum Hall in 2021. Funding for this Art Stumble is through grants previously received by The Mural Society.
Barden Street Community Garden Learning Center
In 2019, the CRA approved funding of $13,000 for the $246,000 Barden Street Community Garden Learning Center (BCG), to be located between Barden and Flint streets just south of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. Funding was requested by the I Will Mentorship Foundation, which will manage 6the Garden and Learning Center. The requested $13,000 funding will be used to construct the garden’s signs, art wall and valor reflection area. Overall, the project will take 3 years to fully complete. It will have the capacity to provide over a thousand pounds of organic vegetables and 200 pounds of fish.
More than just a garden, this urban initiative will infuse 21st Century agricultural skills and the beautification of a blighted neighborhood with art and culture. This multi-faceted effort combines community development, nutrition, education, entrepreneurship, local economic development, and community enjoyment. Once established, the BCG will be open to community groups for hands-on nutrition education, where residents from the surrounding area will be encouraged to eat healthy foods grown in the garden. In addition, the reverse side of the garden signage wall will feature a living valor reflection area, recognizing veterans and first responders. As of January 2020, water and electric services have been installed. The irrigation system is in the process of being installed.
Next Level Church converted the 46,000 sq. ft. Dunbar Shopping Center building into the Dream Center, which will offer a faith-based community outreach program providing job skills training, hunger relief, basic education & Bible studies. A Lee Health Clinic will occupy one of the storefronts. The City of Fort Myers opened a Dream Center Police Substation on the east end of the complex in November 2017 to strengthen its interaction with the local community.
Dr. MLK, Jr. & Veronica S. Shoemaker Blvds. Landscape Refresh & Public Art Cultural Landmark
The Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and the City of Fort Myers Public Art Committee (PAC) is bringing a landmark sculpture to the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and Veronica S. Shoemaker Blvd. This sculpture will be a piece that is both interesting and representative of the Fort Myers community. Since it will be located at a main arterial road into the City of Fort Myers that is traveled by thousands of people each day, it was vitally important that the CRA and PAC actively seek input from all members of the public as to the aesthetic, design, look and feel of the art. The Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) in collaboration with the City of Fort Myers (CFM), CFM Public Works division and CFM Public Art Committee are seeking to implement a segment of the 2018 Dr. MLK & VSSB Revitalization Plan, Action Step #7 "development a prominent cultural landmark". The Fort Myers CRA, in cooperation with the Fort Myers Public Art Committee and Lee County Black History Society (SCBHS), will advertise a National Call to Artists (Request for Qualifications, RFQ) for the Gateway Art at the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. & Veronica S. Shoemaker Boulevards. $100,000 has been designated for the process of finding an artist and commissioning the artwork that will be on the southeast section of this main corridor into Fort Myers. The theme, Dreams, Hope and Civil Rights, will commemorate local culture. These concepts were chosen as the guiding spirit for the piece through a public Zoom meeting and survey hosted by the CRA. The Call to Artists advertisement began in July 2021, with a submission deadline of September 30.
Velasco Village Neighborhood Improvements
Velasco Village neighborhood improvements include one monument sign and four neighborhood signs. The work is in progress. The monument sign has been designed, with a new location is targeted for the corner of Velasco Street and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. Four neighbor signs mock-ups designs were submitted to the vendor. Installation began in June 2021 and was completed the following month.